The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

April 10, 2013

Mount Hope

Council works on demolition projects

Mount Hope’s city council signed papers Tuesday that will most likely lead to the demolition of 8 structures in the town’s historic district — including an old brick school — with the state’s approval.

They will be taken down using a Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant that allows for $1.5 million in demolition of dilapidated structures. Given their historic value, the buildings had to go through a process established by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

Larry Rine of MSES Consultants, which the town hired to work with SHPO on the process, addressed council about where the project currently stands.

Mount Hope’s downtown was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, he said.

Phase one of the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant project includes 5 residences, 2 commercial properties, and the former middle school in downtown, which was damaged by fire in 2006.

When SHPO was informed of the demo plans, it triggered several requirements. For any building torn down inside a registered historic district, the history of the structure must be memorialized.

“You physically can’t do the demo and pass the structure out of people’s minds,” said Rine.

So the city is signing a memorandum of understanding with SHPO outlining how that will happen.

The agreement has six stipulations:

— A letter confirming that a historic inventory form was completed

— An update to the city’s website to include the properties

— Black and white film photos of the properties

— A detailed researched history of each site to be given to SHPO and Mount Hope Historic Landmark Commission

— Three interpretive signs within the historic district and along the walking trail

— Upgrade an online form to include a statement about the properties, as well as points on a map

In addition, the town will be required to remove the 1925 cornerstone of the old middle school building and memorialize it in a kiosk area on city property within a year.

Once SHPO gets the black and white photos and the signed agreements, the buildings can come down.

Rine estimated that the phase 1 properties will have the go-ahead for tear-down by the end of the month. The mayor reports that contractors are ready to begin demolition immediately at that point.

Phase 2 of the program does not include properties in the historic district and Rine expects paperwork to be done by mid- to late-April.

It will include 825 Brown Court, 617 North Virginia Street, 115 Monroe Street, 214 Mound Street, and 810 West Virginia Avenue.

The phase 1 structures are located at 106, 108, 110, 112, 202-208 and 510 on Main Street, and 310 and 314 Madison Street.

In other council business, Lesley Taylor of Region IV Planning and Development Council requested and received approval for $190,101 in drawdowns for the waterline extension and Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

The city approved an employee handbook, necessary for insurance purposes, with the provision that the mayor discuss several points with the city attorney, as requested by council member Kathleen Scott.

Scott was commended by Juanita Wickline for her comments on the handbook, saying that she appreciated that a member of council spoke up.

The city’s police chief reports four arrests last month and an uptick in drug work.

“We have definitely stepped up on the drug charges and made some big impacts in Mount Hope lately. We’ve ruffled a few feathers,” said Chief Thomas Peal.

The chief also reports paving on Main Street will start sometime between Tuesday and Thursday of next week and take 8 days to complete.

—E mail: cmoore@ register-herald.com

 

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